In Search of Creative Clarity

Q: For what aspect of the creative process do you possess the strongest gifts?

Q: For what aspect of the creative process do you have the most energy?

Q: What is distinctive about what you do?

Q: What is it time to let go of?

Q: How do you envision perfection in your art?

These were among the questions posed by artist, teacher, author (and SDA Vice President) Jane Dunnewold at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft (Louisville) in her first session of an Advanced Independent Study Program. Their purpose was to prompt participants to celebrate their strengths, honor their passions, identify the distinctive qualities of their art, minimize distractions and move forward with greater creative clarity.

12 artists enrolled in the program traveled from Missouri to Maine to wrestle with how these questions spoke to their own quests for alignment and clarity.

I brought a decade-long preoccupation with creating 3-dimensional work to the session, as well as numerous models and prototypes I had created over the years. Participation in the program enabled me both to let go of some and to achieve clarity about moving forward with others. I am now at work on a series of life-scale figurative sculptures.

I asked 2 other participants to describe the impact of the first session on their way forward.

A longing for a clearer sense of direction and purpose in the creative process prompted Beth Schnellenberger to apply to the program. Her participation in individual and group critique sessions helped to identify stylistic elements that make her work distinctive and nourish her creative energies. She also derived benefit from conversations with other participants around how they employ such tools as photos, research, reflection, observation and sketching to envision concepts and develop designs for their work. See more of her work at

Joanne Weis began the session with a fairly well-defined idea for a series of work that will attempt to capture the texture and movement of the Floyd’s Fork watershed near her Louisville home.  She has embraced a 3-step design process that involves sketching the landscape, photographing it for reference and interpreting it through stitch.  Participation in the Advanced Independent Study session led Weis to consider additional possibilities for the scale and format of the series. She was also prompted to adapt the factors Dunnewold employed in the group critique process to create a self-critique/design checklist that is enabling her to better troubleshoot challenges she encounters with her work in-process. See more of her work at

All participants benefited from Dunnewold’s emphasis on creating with vision and intentionality, not settling for less-than-optimal solutions and achieving balance between commitment to discipline and openness to serendipity. To that end, Dunnewold worked individually with participants to establish goals on which to focus in preparation for the group’s second session, scheduled for February 2012. For more information, contact Jane Dunnewold via

Linda Witte Henke
creates mixed-media art expressive of spiritual themes, sacred texts and theological reflections. Her work has been exhibited in juried solo, group and invitational exhibitions in Europe, Asia and North America, where it also resides in parish, corporate and private collections. She maintains an active commission schedule and is a published author of books, magazine articles and journal abstracts. She is also a former SDA area representative for Indiana. See more of her work at

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